Today we did the 7.5 km walk around Namsan Mountain. Namsan is a large mountain right in the middle of Seoul, with a radio/TV tower on the top (called, somewhat counterintuitively, “the Namsan Tower”). Along with a number of other mountains and large hills that dot the city, it’s not developed and is both “lungs” for the city and a phenomenal amenity with walking paths, hiking trails, exercise areas, etc.
We got an early start, leaving the house just past 7, and were there & parked by 7:30. It was a good day for it — nice temperature, air fairly clean, but a bit hazy… have to come back again in a month or two, when with luck it’ll be nice & clear.
We parked at Patriot Ahn Jung-geun Memorial Park, which is the start & end of the Namsan trail. (On the map above, it’s where I’ve added a big red circle.) I’d heard of Ahn, but didn’t recognize his name. According to Wikipedia:
On October 26, 1909, he assassinated Itō Hirobumi, a four-time Prime Minister of Japan and former Resident-General of Korea, following the signing of the Eulsa Treaty, with Korea on the verge of annexation by Japan. Ahn was posthumously awarded the Republic of Korea Medal of Order of Merit for National Foundation in 1962 by the Korean Government, the most prestigious civil decoration in the Republic of Korea, for his efforts for Korean independence.
After a couple of abortive starts (“no, I don’t think it’s this way”), we got going, heading south towards the library (down from the circle, on the map above). The first stretch, from there to the base of Namsan Tower, was very pleasant — shady, a nice pedestrian walkway next to the service road, very little traffic (and most of that was the Namsan buses, which are powered either by electricity or compressed natural gas).
At the top, the road cuts through the city wall, with the bus terminus in the gap. You have to walk the last little bit to get up to Namsan tower (but we didn’t, saving it for a clear day).
Very nice views along the way up, and also as we headed on past the tower — the walk had really only just begun. Below, I’ve a couple of short video clips showing the views in a way that (I hope) will be more vivid than a picture.
At a certain point, you turn left onto a pedestrianized bit, which is where the “south” route (that we’d started with) ends and the “north” route begins. It was a bit different, both wider and with one full lane of springy red surfacing (not surprisingly, that was where the many runners tended to go).
We stopped for a couple of minutes just after the turn onto the North route, and found ourselves at Muscle Beach. While there are a lot of exercise areas (including a very large one just a few minutes further along), this one was unique in having serious weightlifting equipment, including large full-body mirrors. And, indeed, as he finished his workout, one of the muscle-builders there looked in the mirror, flexed his muscles and let out a big grunt!
Just around the next corner was the end of a race, with boxes of drinks & some men with stopwatches, and from then on we were passed by large numbers of runners. While the one’s we’d seen there were stopping, there were a number of runners who passed us at least 2 or 3 times (e.g., one was a blond Westerner dressed in black; standing out as he did, we noticed him 3 times certainly).
There was also an archery school, which had been established there in the 600’s and had been reestablished on the same spot a few decades ago.
From that point, it was around 3.5 km, so we’d passed the halfway point. The walk continued very pleasant — not too steep (but often going up or down), generally shady, with a (man-made) brook running next to the road for a lot of it. There were little parks in the culverts, and occasional lookout points.
When we were almost back to the Patriot Park, there was a nice looking little cafe / restaurant, less than 500 m from the parking. Looked like a nice place to stop for a light snack and refreshing drink after a walk, but sadly was not open yet (at this point, it was almost 9:30am, the walk ended up taking just 1:45 including stops to look at the views but not counting our flaffing about at the beginning). So we kept on back to Patriot Ahn Jung-geun Memorial Park, to our car and then on to home.
Here are the two videos with panoramic views and, below that, copies of all the pictures and a few more besides.